By DUANE NOLLEN
The Oskaloosa Herald
Albia has a Secret Santa who makes sure needy children in the area have a Merry Christmas.
Retired Albia High School teacher Mary Sauter has been the Secret Santa for more than 20 years. She has bought toys and clothing that she donates to local needy children in Albia and other area communities.
Sauter was featured on the “Today” show on Monday and she did a telephone interview Wednesday morning for a Canadian television show.
Sauter, who grew up in Oskaloosa, said she has been on an emotional high since she was interviewed by “Today” show reporters earlier this year.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” she said of the media attention.
Sauter said “Today” show reporters visited her in Albia in July. Sauter said they interviewed her father, who is staying with her, and watched her buy gifts to give away at Christmas. They returned in October to record the winter coat giveaway she does for Head Start students before cold weather arrives.
Sauter said she began her quest as Secret Santa when she saw a giving tree at a local store and took some ornaments that had children’s Christmas wishes on the back.
The first year, she did four presents; the following year, 10. Then, she expanded her Christmas giving. Sauter shops for Albia children and also for Oskaloosa children and other area communities. She retired from teaching a year ago, so she has more time to shop for children.
“I really enjoy doing this,” she said. “I will take 50 plus bags of clothes and toys to Head Start.”
As a Secret Santa, Sauter has a lot of elves to help her in her task.
Sauter gets children’s wish lists from Head Start and local schools, so she knows what to get. She has always bought a lot of toys, but in recent years, Sauter has also concentrated on winter coats and clothing.
Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at email@example.com